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Adhesion of vacuum deposited optical coatings on PMMA and polycarbonate

: Munzert, Peter; Präfke, Christiane; Schulz, Ulrike; Kaiser, Norbert


Journal of adhesion science and technology 26 (2012), Nr.18-19, S.2269-2276
ISSN: 0169-4243
Fraunhofer IOF ()
adhesion; optical coatings; physical vapour deposition; PMMA; polycarbonate

The deposition of interference coatings with optical functions (e.g., anti-reflective coatings, beam splitters and filters) on plastic substrates is becoming ever more important. A well-known deposition method for such coatings on polymers is plasma ion-assisted vacuum evaporation (plasma ion-assisted deposition or plasma IAD). However, the industrial production of well-adhering dielectric coatings on unlacquered polymer surfaces has not yet been developed to a satisfactory level. PMMA is known to be extremely difficult to coat with optical layers because of its inadequate adhesion characteristics. Polycarbonate is considered to be less problematic, but in many cases unexpected adhesion failures arise. This paper presents a study of the reasons for the poor adhesion to PMMA of oxide coatings deposited by plasma IAD. We show that in such a coating process it is only the exposure of the substrate to particles and short-wavelength radiation that determines its adhesion to the deposited layer. For polycarbonate, we found a dependence of the adhesion strength of the coating on its porosity. Considering these results, modified plasma IAD processes have been developed that enable the deposition of well-adhering optical coatings on these polymers.